Talk about the past in Spanish (I): Pretérito Perfecto de Indicativo (Present Perfect) 5

To talk about past experiences in an undefined time in the past, whether we don’t know exactly “when”, or just because it’s not important, we use the “Pretérito Perfecto de Indicativo” (Present Perfect).

  • Formation

The Pretérito Perfecto is formed in the same way as English, with the verb “haber” (is the auxiliar verb, like “to have” in English) and the participle. The auxiliary verb is conjugated for the subject of the sentece:


Pedro ha pagado las facturas.
Pedro has paid the bills. 

Ellas no han ido de vacaciones todavía.
They haven’t gone on holidays yet.

The participle is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding either -ado or -ido. The participle is invariable, it doesn’t change. We can’t put anything between the auxiliar verb and the participle:


Yo ya he aprendido a contar en alemán. And not: Yo he ya aprendido a contar en alemán.
I have already learn to count in german.

  • Uses:

1) The pretérito perfecto is frequently used for past actions that continue into the present or continue to affect in the present.


Mis amigos y yo hemos ido al cine esta semana a ver la última película de George Clooney.
My friend and I, we have gone to the cinema this week to watch the last movie of George Clooney.

He perdido las llaves y no puedo entrar en casa.
I have lost my keys and I can’t get into the house.

2) The pretérito perfecto is used sometimes with frequency expressions, like: todavía no, aún no, ya, una vez, dos veces, muchas veces, pocas veces…


Mi novio ha venido a visitarme a Córcega muchas veces.
My boyfriend has come to visit me in Corsica a lot of times.

Todavía no he aprendido a comunicarme en árabe con mis amigos marroquís, tengo que practicar más.
I haven’t learnt yet to communicate in Arabic with my Morocan friends, I have to practice more.


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5 thoughts on “Talk about the past in Spanish (I): Pretérito Perfecto de Indicativo (Present Perfect)

  • Marie

    What is the difference between Preterito Perfecto de indicative and Preterito imperfecto? I am just so confused. I do not know when to use them.

    • María Post author

      Pretérito Perfecto (he estudiado, he vivido, has leído…) it is used to talk about actions that happen in the past but have a connection with the present.
      Ej: He perdido las llaves (I have lost my keys — I haven’t found them yet, so it has a consequence in the present)
      Pretérito Imperfecto (estudiaba, vivía, leías…) it is used to describe actions in the past, with no connection with the present, also to talk about actions that repeat in the past and continuous actions in the past.
      Ej: Mi padre tenía bigote (My dad had a moustache — description in the past) Yo iba a la piscina todos los días cuando era pequeña (I went to the swimming pool every day when I was little — description of an action that happen regularly in the past but doesn’t happen any more).

      Hope this helps! 🙂

      • Mihalea

        I don’t understand why “Mis amigos y yo hemos ido al cine esta semana a ver la última película de George Clooney” should be used with preterito perfecto de indicativo…how does it affect the present?